Have Brisbane Roar played themselves into championship form?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Brisbane Roar player Besart Berisha. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

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    Can Brisbane Roar make it three titles in a row? That has looked an unlikely prospect all season but suddenly the defending A-League champions have found some form.

    The Roar may have easily dispatched a dreadful Sydney FC 3-1 at Suncorp Stadium last night but surely the genesis of their resurrection took place at the same venue a week earlier.

    It was in the 30th minute of their clash with Melbourne Heart when German import Thomas Broich collected a pass before unleashing a venomous, swerving drive which flashed into the top corner of Andrew Redmayne’s goal.

    It was Broich’s third such effort from distance in a game in which the reigning Johnny Warren medallist was particularly influential and suggested the midfield maestro may just have found some form at the right end of the season.

    Broich was again outstanding last night, not that he needed to be against a Sky Blues outfit ready and willing to push the self-destruct button.

    From the minute an errant Alessandro Del Piero back pass was intercepted by Broich and smashed home by Besart Berisha, there only ever looked one winner.

    It’s safe to say Berisha hasn’t had quite the same impact he had on the league last season, yet the Albanian front man has scored still an impressive 14 goals this time around and he finished his opportunity emphatically from a chance that others might have squandered.

    Try as they might Sydney FC just couldn’t get back in the game – though they certainly had their chances – and it was probably fitting that it was another mistake from Sebastian Ryall which cost them the match.

    Of all the players you probably don’t want to misdirect a pass to, it’s Berisha, and the fiery striker made them pay as he teed up Steven Lustica for an easy finish.

    Ivan Franjic scored the goal of the game – surely the versatile utility man deserves some consideration for Australia’s East Asian Championship squad? – and although Del Piero pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, Sydney FC were never in the match.

    The two coaches were a picture of contrasts throughout.

    Whereas the fist-pumping Mike Mulvey celebrated Franjic’s goal with his players, Frank Farina looked a scowling figure of consternation on the touchline as he watched his team turn in an error-ridden performance in the most crucial game of all.

    Sydney FC fans now suffer the indignity of hoping Western Sydney beat Newcastle tomorrow to give the Sky Blues a chance of squeaking into the finals.

    That could be easier said than done, particularly with Wanderers playmaker Shinji Ono joining a growing list of absentees and the Jets hoping to seal a finals position themselves.

    Ultimately Sydney only have themselves to blame and after getting off to a poor start to the campaign under former coach Ian Crook, their patchy form suggests they’re unlikely to have any great say in the title race should they even make the finals.

    That might not be the case with Brisbane Roar though, who have suddenly found some form just when it matters most.

    And with the likes of Berisha, Broich and Franjic in form, could the Wanderers, Mariners and Victory soon find themselves battling with a new championship contender?

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (60)

    • March 29th 2013 @ 10:37am
      pete4 said | March 29th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

      To be honest I didn’t think SFC played that badly just more that Brisbane seem to have hit form at the right time (on a half decent surface at Suncorp finally). As back-to-back Champions the Roar are definitely the dark horse for the Championship

      • March 29th 2013 @ 11:40am
        brisvegas said | March 29th 2013 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        I also thought Sydney weren’t as bad as some of their disgruntled fans are saying. They pressed well and scrapped hard. It was a tough tight game, I thought, and Brisbane did not have it all their own way. The difference between the teams was some uncharacteristic opportunism from Brisbane.

        I very much enjoyed the game. Both sides contributed to a fast paced gritty type of affair, although Brisbane’s passing was a few degrees better than Sydney’s.

        I’d like to see Sydney qualify, and play Victory, and win, and play WSW, and lose. Then the Roar can play WSW in the final. Love it. Just love it.

        • Columnist

          March 29th 2013 @ 12:24pm
          Mike Tuckerman said | March 29th 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          It was interesting to see the playing surface from up in the press box. Chalk and cheese compared to the pitch against the Heart.

          Hate the saying but I thought the Roar ‘executed’ well last night. They might have been gifted their first two goals but they always looked the better side.

          • March 29th 2013 @ 7:23pm
            Ian said | March 29th 2013 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

            i thought i’d add a bit on the condition of the pitch topic (and also save it for a Roar article on Suncorp Stadium in the future)

            Yesterday I commented on an article just for a couple of readers to see that I had won a competition on Brisbane Times website that amongst others included had a little tour of Suncorp Stadium prior to gates opening. We went on the ground (but not on the field) and the Brisbane Roar guide was discussing the two different types of grass they use..couch and rye ?? (not a grass expert) and one is suitable for summer and one winter and the seeds lie dormant in their ‘off season’. he commented the pitch just now had grown, for the use of the right term, into the summer field (where Mike alluded to the pitch looking chalk and cheese from a few days ago). The cause of this delay was do to do with the Coldplay concert last November with 50,000 or so in attendance- whatever the actual reason there was some disagreement about how to protect the field. The result being a damaged field.

            I also asked how about when the Broncos or Reds play a day or two before and how does this affect field preparation and he said generally the field recovers very well from another sporting event. Though the Grand Final last year didn’t look too good after union was played 2 days before, but I didn’t want to start any unpleasantries.

    • Roar Guru

      March 29th 2013 @ 10:57am
      dinoweb said | March 29th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      I was at the game. SFC played in typical Farina style, lots of huff and puff, without huge amounts of tactical awerness. Credit to them, they gave it a red hot go, but weren’t up to the task. Nice to see a team come to Brisbane and actually try to play for a win for a change rather than park the bus and look to counter.

      Brisbane looked good in patches, but most impressively for me defended well most of the night.

      The difference for Broich is his work rate. Previoulsy well down on possessions, compared to the rest of the team, he’s been getting the ball a lot more in the past couple of weeks. It was obvious last night that the goal from last week has also given him confidence to shoot, something he has been missing for a while.

      While some may have been writing Brisbane off all season, fact is apart from the one game against Heart, they have not lost by more than a goal all season. It’s been a 95% effort from the side all year, but in the past couple of weeks they’ve finally found that missing 5% and it’s making all the difference.

      With none of the other top 6 in particularly good form, I’m guessing there’ll be a few nervous looks north of the Tweed by other coaches.

      • March 29th 2013 @ 12:11pm
        Ian said | March 29th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

        i think Mariners are going alright actually, the 20th to 45th minute against us 2 weeks ago was very good. and interested to see how Wanderers go tonight with a few M.I.A. confident about next week though.

        • Roar Guru

          March 29th 2013 @ 12:49pm
          Cameron Kellett said | March 29th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          I agree. Personally for me. If Perth make it then the three teams in form would be Brisbane, mariners and Perth.

          I’m looking forward to hopefully versing Adelaide. Should be a, packed Hindmarsh and our form there isn’t too bad.

      • Columnist

        March 29th 2013 @ 12:25pm
        Mike Tuckerman said | March 29th 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        A good summary, dinoweb.

        Sydney might have been one of the few teams press at Suncorp but you can hardly say the circumstances didn’t warrant it. Their defending cost them dearly.

        But on the whole I thought the Roar looked very much like a team gradually playing themselves into form.

    • March 29th 2013 @ 11:59am
      Football United said | March 29th 2013 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      god i hope not, i couldn’t deal with the shame of telling people that a team that is fifth on the table is considered champions of our league.

      • March 29th 2013 @ 12:14pm
        Ian said | March 29th 2013 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        you’d be telling people that are fans of league and afl where its all about finals too. so they understand a team outside the top 2 can win.
        shame gone.

        • March 29th 2013 @ 1:12pm
          Football United said | March 29th 2013 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

          I live in Manchester, more people think AFL only stands for Arena Football League (indoor yankball) than it also does for Australian Football League. hahaha. I think i could deal with playoffs if it wasn’t open to over half the frickin competition.

      • March 29th 2013 @ 3:39pm
        brisvegas said | March 29th 2013 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

        Shame? Why is that shameful? What is wrong with a lower placed team winning a cup? Is it shameful for, say, Millwall to win the FA Cup? Who makes you feel this shame?

        Is it also shameful for somebody other than ManU, Barca, Real or Bayern to be called European Champions?

    • March 29th 2013 @ 12:56pm
      Bondy said | March 29th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

      An enjoyable game their skipper Broich led by example last night and the Roars finishing was clinical too, I noticed also that the only difference being between Syd FC and the Roar has been goal aggregate, Brisbane played well against a side that they knew they could beat infront of a solid crowd too.

      Brisbane could cause some trouble in the finals ,but not to much.

    • March 29th 2013 @ 1:20pm
      Noble Camel said | March 29th 2013 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

      For sure brisbane are a threat now. Mulvey said after game that the squad is absolutely pumped right now and in some ways he’s not in control now as they all know what to do from here. Apart from CCM the others are inexperienced and this is where brisbane have an advantage. Broich, Berisha and North are playing well too and you need the big guns to fire.

      If its Adelaide next week then that’s a tricky tie as they are good at stifling teams. Melbourne would be better for brisbane to play in my opinion

      • Roar Guru

        April 2nd 2013 @ 5:16pm
        nick richardson said | April 2nd 2013 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

        Brisbane are the most successful team at Hindmarsh stadium this year. I think the reds will be very nervous about this fixture.

    • March 29th 2013 @ 1:38pm
      matthew_gently said | March 29th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

      So much is made of Broich (understandably), but for me the interesting aspect of Roar’s late-season form is Franjic. His move to midfield has been a revelation: quick, tactically aware, great skills and work rate, and a clincal finisher. I can’t sing his praises enough.

      • March 29th 2013 @ 3:02pm
        Stevo said | March 29th 2013 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

        Agree. He gave Heart lots to ponder last week. He’s also a sharp finisher. Good future ahead of him.

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